Who wins Chris Christie's campaign donors: Mitt Romney or Rick Perry?

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are now scrambling to win over big donors who were backing Gov. Chris Christie. Rick Perry reportedly has $17 million in donations this quarter.

AP Photo/Mel Evans
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announces that he will not run for president in 2012,in Trenton, N.J. Will his financial backers go to Mitt Romney or Rick Perry?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) took about two minutes Tuesday afternoon to tell reporters he wasn’t going to run for president. (The gregarious governor then spent about 50 minutes taking questions on the subject.)

Christie put it simply: “New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me.”

Let’s cut to the chase: With the (ahem) biggest threat out of the way, what does that mean for the GOP field?

That furious pounding you hear is Mitt Romney and Rick Perry hammering at their phones, reaching out to donors who were waiting out “the reconsideration” in New Jersey, as Christie put it.

Consider that a mere three minutes into Christie’s press conference, the Perry campaign tweeted:

"Rick Perry raised at least $15 million for 3Q, beating Romney's 'as much as' $13 million ..."

The Perry people may as well have put up a massive neon sign to big-dollar GOP donors shouting "PERRY IS RAISING SERIOUS CAMPAIGN CASH."

Perry’s number is below Romney’s second-quarter haul of $18 million. But given that his faltering debate performances may have curtailed his fundraising - and all the Christie speculation likely had some donors sitting on the sidelines - it ain’t bad.

In fact, by Wednesday morning The Drudge Report said Perry has raised more than $17 million, from more than 20,000 unique donors, half of whom were from outside Texas. $17 million in 49 days.

Now the race for those as-yet-uncommitted GOP donors - particularly those on Wall Street - is at top speed. Over the next several weeks we may get a better sense of who is winning the mini-primary for Christie’s former backers.

The Hill reported Wednesday that Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone – a deep-pocketed Christie backer – is now behind Mitt Romney.

The GOP primary race has been amazingly mercurial. Several months ago, Newt Gingrich’s campaign saw a near total staff desertion. Now, he’s at 7 percent in the latest Washington Post/ABC Poll. Perry’s seen his stock drop like a stone - but with a strong, perhaps leading, fundraising report about to drop and new donors in play,

Decoder wonders: Could Perry be ripe for a resurgence?

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